I consider myself a good programmer and want to answer questions on Stack Overflow.

But, all valid answers are posted within five minutes of questions being posted. I admire the enthusiasm of the strong Stack Overflow community.

But I am wondering, how do I score points when valid answers are already posted?

  • It doesn't really matter, because quality comes from thought-out code. Most of the time less is more and your quality of code and easy workable example is more appreciated than some going full code monkey and just posting a long code story. I have earned a lot of points on the WordPress Stack Exchange and not because I was first, but because my code always worked and I always provided a workable example, a Minimal Reproducible Example (MRE) is going to get you points and will help a lot of fellow developers in understanding code especially juniors who just started started out. Commented Oct 31, 2022 at 2:44

3 Answers 3


Valid answers are only posted within 5 minutes on really easy questions. I've got my rep by finding the slightly trickier ones in subjects I know well and other people might not. (439 rep so far; I've only been a member for slightly longer than you.)

I also like to read the question and estimate what the person knows or doesn't, so sometimes if they seem like a new programmer I'll answer an already-answered question with more detail, links, tutorials, etc. The selected answer is usually the best one, not the first one. You also get rep from upvotes.

Also, stop worrying about scoring points. They're just points. Nobody really cares that much unless you've got > 10,000. Worry about helping people instead - it's much more satisfying!

(Oh - You also get 100 points for associating stackoverflow and meta.stackoverflow accounts. Thank you for that.)

  • Yes, this is what I would've said. Find your niche and provide high-quality answers with specific code lines. Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 12:29
  • 1
    "They're just points." - Exactly. I've come to the conclusion that any score over a few hundred is less a measure of skill and more a measure of how much that person has used the site. Sure, there are the popular "great ones" (Jon Skeet, etc.) and there are those people who have asked truly stellar questions or given truly stellar answers. But many times those are the same questions/answers that any of us may ask/give, they just did it first. It's not a measure of intelligence or experience, just site usage.
    – David
    Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 12:30
  • Thanks a ton. This is interesting.
    – nsivakr
    Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 13:03

Patience. Remember, it's not a competition.

  1. You can earn points and badges for lots of things, not just "the correct answer."
  2. If you find an answer that's correct and even accepted, but in some way incomplete or could use more information, add it in a comment.
  3. Feel free to browse the old unanswered questions, maybe you can contribute to something there.
  4. If you're itching to try out answering questions, hit that Questions link at the top and see the latest questions. Sometimes they come in faster than the answers, sometimes they don't. There will be plenty to answer.
  5. Even if somebody beats you to it while you're typing an answer, post yours anyway. Maybe yours is slightly better, maybe yours looks at the problem from a viewpoint more relevant to the asker, etc.
  6. It's not about the one correct answer to a question. It's about multiple people giving multiple answers and lots of input and those responses get voted up/down accordingly by the community. You might not be marked as the accepted answer, but you could still be voted up with a good and informative response.
  • Yep. I truly understand, it is not a competition. But i'm amazed by how many good answers, people get within a short span of time.
    – nsivakr
    Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 13:03

By pressing F5 regularly and not working on your primary job:). Seriously fast posted answers are not always correct and also not answering fully the question(except Jon Skeet's). Maybe you post your answer in 15 minutes but it will get far more pluses, because it is more accurate.

  • "By pressing F5 regularly and not working on your primary job:)" - That's actually my approach some days, I admit :)
    – David
    Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 12:25
  • 1
    You gotta admit, for a Q&A site having people race to give the answer first has got to be a good sign. I love the fact that I can get at least a rudimentary answer very quickly when I post questions instead of having to check back in a few days like a normal message forum.
    – JohnFx
    Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 12:51
  • 1
    @JohnFx - You are absolutely right. I just wanted to explain to the author of the post, that if there is an already posted answer, it doesn't mean the question is fully answered and finished. Commented Jul 22, 2010 at 13:04

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